Pescara, Italy, July 13, 2014. Italy won qualification Pool H and secured its place in the Final Round of the 2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men, in Preliminary Pool I in Nitra, Slovakia and will have a the opportunity to defend its 2012 title from Gdynia. On the final day of competition in Pescara the surprise was signed by Estonia, which defeated Germany by 3:0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22). The defeat is very heavy for the German team as it had all chances to earn a ticket to the finals, but these chances were evaporated by a whole-hearted Estonia. This meant that host Italy needed to win only two sets from the last match against Spain to qualify. The home heroes did more than that. They defeated their opponent by 3:1 (25-15, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22) to join Bulgaria, France, Russia and host Slovakia, as well as Serbia or Belgium, in Preliminary Pool I of the European Championship, starting on August 28.
Estonia vs. Germany 3:0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22)
In the first set, Estonia dominated over Germany from the start, showing its best play. Johan Verstappen’s guys failed to react and the opponents won the set convincingly by 25-17. More fighting occurred in the second set, as Germany was able to respond to Estonia’s game. For many rallies, the game was in balance before Germany took an 18-14 lead. But then, in the key moment, Estonia pushed on the accelerator button, caught up with the opponent and distanced itself for 25-22. Estonia insisted on the same script in the third set. It came back after the initial lag, without letting Germany find the right countermeasures. The Baltic team administered the advantage, winning by 25-22 and obtaining its first three points.
Oliver Orav contributed 18 points to Estonia’s victory, while Germany’s top scorer Moritz Reichert finished with 8.
Johan Verstappen, head coach of Germany: “We are really disappointed, I have nothing to add. We played badly, having a lot of problems in attack. Now there really is a lot of bitterness…”
Markkus Keel, captain of Estonia: “We are very satisfied to have closed the tournament with a good performance. Today, on the court we had a good feeling, confirmed by the result. I feel sorry for Germany, but this is our sport.”
Spain vs. Italy 1:3 (15-25, 25-22, 19-259, 22-25)
In the first set Italy began immediately with the right attitude, taking the lead in the game. The Azzurrini did not commit any errors and played with confidence. The Spanish did not manage to stop the run of the Italians who won the set by an impressive 25-15. The start of the second set was more balanced. Spain tried to react, but Italy understood the danger and tied the score. The set continued very close with neither side managing to escape. In the key moment Italy made some mistakes and Spain closed it off at 25-22. With the victory in the set Spain acquired some security, trying to enforce its own rhythm in the third set. Michele Totire put Sebastiano Milan in place of Andrea Argenta and Italy responded with some fantastic blocking. Spain’s attackers were completely confused, while the Azzurrini pushed to the maximum and, despite a comeback attempt, closed it off at 25-19. With qualification already assured, Italy was not content and managed to finish the job with a 25-22 win in the fourth set.
Carlos Jimenez scored 16 points for Spain to lead the charts of the match. Italy’s top scorers were Giacomo Raffaelli and Alberto Polo with 13 points each. The latter signed off on five of the impressive 17 kill blocks that the winning team scored in the game.
Michele Totire, head coach of Italy: "This is a well-deserved qualification, tonight we showed all our qualities. In the second set the tension played us a bad joke, but we were able to react immediately. I am really happy for these guys. It is a special group in which I believe with all my might, and which must be preserved and kept together at all costs. Ahead of us we have a long period of work, as we want to be well prepared for the European Championship."
Ricardo Maldonado, head coach of Spain: “For us the first game against Germany that we played really badly was the negative factor. In other matches, we always improved, and even tonight I am pleased about the way my team played. Italy was stronger than us and we have no regrets about the defeat.”
Click here for more details on the 3nd Round of qualifications, including match statistics and photos.